A hundred-and-three years ago - 1920 - war raged in eastern Europe, a pandemic had killed millions and a small island in north-west Europe demanded independence.
A turbulent time.
But also a time of increasing liberty and social improvement with women recently being able to vote in elections in many countries.
Into this maelstrom came hope. Hope in the form of sport: the sixth modern summer Olympics.
Peace, hope, sport ... and tug-of-war
Antwerp, Belgium’s largest city, had avoided the devastation of the First World War so it was the ideal location for the first post-war Olympics: a Games that exemplified peace with the release of doves at the opening ceremony and the first flying of the iconic, white, multi-ringed flag.
Alongside, this frankly weird inclusion came - as a demonstration sport - the magnificent sport of korfball.
A controversially inclusive sport
And at the time, men and women playing together on the same team was seen as…not progressive, but controversial or even offensive.
Korfball players had been subject to accusations of immorality. Female players showing bare ankles and knees were more than frowned upon, and their for-the-time risqué outfits drew sharp words.
Yet due to the war, fit young male athletes were in short supply and that loosened the strictures that bound society’s values and morals. That meant it was time for progress, but it was an uphill struggle!
Getting korfball on the Olympic bill
This did the trick.
That wasn’t the end of the shenanigans and wrangling, but basically it was now game on for the korf!
One summer Sunday afternoon in Antwerp
At 1pm on Sunday 22 August 1920 with the first Olympic korfball game due to start at 2pm, the players set off from their boarding house for the stadium a few kilometres south of the city centre. Unfortunately, their drivers got confused and headed north towards a fairground that had the copyright-infringing name 'the Olympic Games'.
In the end, the korfballers arrived at the Olympic Stadium with just 10 minutes to spare before the game start time!
It finished 2-0 for South Holland which seems like a spectacularly low-scoring game - perhaps everyone was distracted by the marathon.
International korfball since then
Korfball has been a part of every World Games since the 1985 London Games, which included squash, rugby and, inevitably, tug-of-war
News from around the Guildford Thunder family.
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